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General David Petraeus: Trump administration 'impressively  handled' strike on Iranian terrorist

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'This is much more substantial than the killing of Osama bin Laden'

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Retired four-star Gen. David Petraeus praised the Trump administration's handling of the drone strike that took out Iranian terrorist mastermind Qassem Soleimani.

In an interview with Public Radio International, the decorated military veteran and former head of the CIA was asked if he had confidence in the Trump White House to navigate the complexities around the killing of Soleimani.

"Well, I think that this particular episode has been fairly impressively handled," Patraeus responded.

It was 'more substantial than the killing of Osama bin Laden'

Petraeus also noted that the killing of Soleimani has greater implications than U.S. operation that led to the death of terrorist Osama bin Laden.

"Again, it is impossible to overstate the significance of this action," he said. "This is much more substantial than the killing of Osama bin Laden. It's even more substantial than the killing of Baghdadi."

The former Army general also noted that Trump's order to kill Soleimani was "a very significant effort to reestablish deterrence, which obviously had not been shored up by the relatively insignificant responses up until now."

"The reasoning seems to be to show in the most significant way possible that the U.S. is just not going to allow the continued violence—the rocketing of our bases, the killing of an American contractor, the attacks on shipping, on unarmed drones—without a very significant response," he told Foreign Policy in a separate interview when asked why Trump had Soleimani killed while past presidents did not.

Soleimani was planning attacks against Americans: President Trump

According to the Defense Department, Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and was planning additional attacks against U.S. nationals and interests.

"At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization," the Defense Department declared in a statement.

Meanwhile, during a visit to Florida on Friday, President Trump said the strike that killed Soleimani was a defensive measure.

"Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him," he said. "For years, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds Force—under Soleimani's leadership—has targeted, injured, and murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen," Trump added.

The bombing of the Iranian terrorist was an effort "to stop a war" not "to start a war," the president said.

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